July – Tan Lines, Ice Creams and Biblical Rain

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Continuing the theme…

Sunday the 1st of July and it was the M&DTTA 100 Championship around the J4/18 course in Cheshire.  At least that was the plan!  When I turned up to sign on there was a sign up – roadworks had closed one of the short legs of the course so now it was the M&DTTA 91 Championship!  I have to admit that looking at the forecast temperatures I wasn’t particularly unhappy about having to do 9 miles fewer.

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It was relatively pleasant when I set off but pretty much straight away I got a taste of what was to come.  The road surface was terrible.  After just over a mile and a half I felt one of my bottles hitting my leg as it was bounced off the bike.  I wasn’t too concerned because I’d put a couple of spares on the self-supported table so I just carried on juddering up the A50.  Several miles later, on the way back down the A50, I noticed that somebody had stood my bottle by the roadside.  I’ll get that next lap, I thought.  After Twemlow Lane the A535 to Chelford was particularly busy with traffic.  Before 10am on a Sunday morning on a narrow country road you don’t expect to be passed by a couple of HGVs and stuck in traffic at a roundabout.  The traffic didn’t seem to ease off after that and I ended several times, including the Holmes Chapel double roundabout and Chelford Island again.  When I arrived back at the point where my bottle had been I slowed down to get it only to find it had gone.  At the self-support table I found it, so that was a bonus.  Or so I thought because I lost it again on the next lap – this time thanks to a different set of potholes on the A50 (never to be found again this time!)

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By about 60 miles the temperature had really ramped up and it was getting harder and harder to maintain power.  I started getting cramp at around 80 miles and by the finish I wasn’t bothered how fast I was going, I just wanted it to end!

Picture courtesy of Tim Marshall

By the time I rolled into the HQ my bike was making all sorts of strange noises from the battering it had taken on the awful Cheshire roads, as were a number of my joints and contact points! 92M in 03:41:46, 5th from 49 riders (deep breath – £20 and Nick Carter Trophy, 1st vet on standard, £20 and South Lancs Team Shield 1st team.  Bronze medal in M&DTTA Middle Distance Comp, 1st Veteran)

It’s just not cricket

Actually it is.  I took a break from training and went to watch England play India at the T20 cricket at Old Trafford.

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Great atmosphere

The atmosphere was pretty great and despite India teaching England a lesson it was a lovely evening.  On the tram home the streets were deathly quiet because England were busy winning a penalty shootout in the World Cup for the first time in a generation!

At the Club 10 on Wednesday my legs really did have nothing – 20W down from my best and 10W down from my usual mid-week.  At least the tan lines look good.

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New Bars Please

I had decided to try to alter my position to get one with my hands a bit higher and closer to my face.  So I replaced the Zipp Vuka 110’s with some reversed USE 50˚ extensions.  I also used Canyon’s switchplate adaptors to bring the armrests slightly closer together.  I tested it all and it felt pretty comfortable on the turbo.  I’m not sure that it is any more aero but it seems to look like it should be.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Do you want the bad news or the good…?

On Saturday I was at Rainford to do Southport CC’s 25 on D25/3.  I figured it would be a good test for my new position.  It was another scorching hot day and I was expecting quiet roads due to my start time being twenty minutes before England’s World Cup quarter final against Sweden.  I signed on and got my bike set up on the turbo ready for my warmup.  The bike was in the 11 cog at the back and that was where it stayed – the Di2 system was dead.  I was sure I’d checked the battery level the night before so I wondered if I’d inadvertently not connected something properly so I went through all the connections.  I even removed the seatpost to check the battery connection.  Nothing doing.  So I was a DNS.  Annoyingly, when I got home, I plugged the charger in and it all worked so maybe it had discharged?  Still, I got to watch the England quarter final game which was some consolation.

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On Sunday I was due to go to South Wales to ride R25/3H again so I was paranoid about my Di2 working (I now carry a Di2 charger and battery pack in my TT kitbag!).  The heatwave continues and it was already warm when I arrived at the HQ. I warmed up in the shade and made my way to the start.  This was the first time trying my new position in anger – not ideal but there you go.  The sun was pretty intense when I set off and I was working pretty hard despite the slight tailwind.  I recorded my fastest ever 10 miles in 18:13, or 32.9mph.  I did that off 279W – my heart-rate (HR) at a fairly normal average of 167bpm.  It started to hurt a bit at this point with the turn coming at 15 miles or so and then back into a slight headwind.

I was very hot now and sweating profusely.  Being a smaller rider I think I manage heat better than most and I don’t normally sweat so much.  The theory with sweating is that there are two main components to it.  Blood is diverted towards the skin (and consequently away from the muscles) to allow it to be cooled by the air.  That’s not enough so the next stage is to use fluid to help heat evaporate. In the first instance the water that constitutes sweat comes from extracellular fluid and blood plasma, which results in a “thickening” of the blood.  That means the heart has to work harder to move it around the body, which compounds the fact that it is already diverting it from the muscles.  Hence HR is usually elevated in the heat and performance is seriously compromised.

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Thanks to GBM Photography

My second 10 miles took 20:35 (29.2mph) but my power had dropped to 274W and my average HR was up to 177bpm.  I was struggling now, and a slight holdup at the final roundabout (cost – 8 seconds, according to TrainingPeaks) made me think I had missed my target “49”.  I was gutted as I crawled my way back to the HQ, miserably up the bank that I had been flying down at 46mph only forty-five minutes earlier!  However, I had just sneaked in under 50 minutes!  #project49 complete!  For the last 5 miles my power was 276W with an average HR of 181bpm, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  I put a massive effort in over the last half mile, averaging 317W, with my HR peaking at 185bpm (which is pretty much my maximum).  That effort was probably the difference between success and failure and I doubt I would have been able to do that if I’d raced on Saturday rather than DNS!  A good lesson in perspective!

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25M in 49:57, 15th from 97 riders

Contador by the numbers

Alberto Contador posted some pictures to his Instagram page showing the results from an FTP test he took prior to one of his Tour victories.  So the data is possibly 10 years old but it is quite incredible really.  He also posted a picture of him weighing himself afterwards.  The pictures showed that his 20 minute power was 458W at under 62kg.  Wow.  That’s around 7.4W/Kg for 20 minutes.  Now I weigh just under 62kg too, but I’m happy if I get anywhere near 5W/Kg for 20 minutes.  In real terms, if I started a 20 minute climb next to Contador I could stay with him for possibly 90 seconds.  At which point I would go pop whilst he carriied on riding at the same level!  Even Chris Froome, with the most recent test data he published, is only in the mid 6’s (W/Kg), which sort of pokes a hole in the Froome-haters view that he is on something that elevates him above his peers.


It’s not very often in this country that you see a shimmering heat haze on a road but that’s what it was like on the A50/6R.

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Having been re-arranged from the A50/6 due to roadworks further up the A50 the field was much smaller than usual, and the course was 3 laps of the circuit above.  I actually liked the course and I believe that the BDCA 100 later in the season will be 6 laps of this.  Again it was hot and again I watched my power fade away as the temperature increased and I flagged, although overall I really enjoyed it.  50M in 01:47:09, 4th from 24 riders

Seamons 25
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Photo courtesy of Mike Kilburn

With the Cheshire RC 50 being cancelled due to an accident that resulted in a 600 ton exceptional load being diverted onto the course (imagine being stuck behind that – “I would have PB’d…”), my next race was the Seamons Open 25 on J2/9.  After the seemingly endless heatwave (by British standards) the weather was much cooler and very, very windy.  I was off early so that I could help with the catering/general dogsbodying after my ride.

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The day was very windy and as I was about to head off for the start it started raining.  By the time I got to the start it had stopped so I thought I might get lucky.  No such luck.  The wind was really blustery, with some scary gusts, and then the heavens opened and it was monsoon-like for about 20 minutes.  The first lap of the course was pretty miserable but then it stopped and the wind died a bit making the second lap more pleasant.  A big thank you to all the volunteers, helpers and marshalls – it can’t have been nice being out in that.  25M in 55:39, 4th from 88 riders (£50, 1st vet on standard, £20 1st team.  VTTA M&NW 25M Championship Cup)

Blog On

I’ve been thinking about whether to continue with the blog.  A few people have spoken to me about it and find it interesting, which is really nice to hear (thank you for taking the trouble), so I’m going to carry on for the time being, although I might think about changing tack a little bit after the season is over.  If you read this and enjoy it – thank you.

Another month of mainly scorchio weather!  Brings back memories of 1976 for those over a certain age!  I rode for 729 miles outdoors with 25,225ft ascent at around 19.2mph average, which used up around 25,225kcals. I spent 18 hours 43 mins on the turbo using a further 13,628kcals. Total for the month was 3,320TSS

Happy New Year – January Update

January often feels like the month that never ends.  The post-Christmas blues, dark and miserable, cold and wet.  Not the most inspiring month in the calendar so it is easy to lose focus.  Add in the poor weather that leads to a couple of weekends stuck indoors on the turbo going stir crazy.  However, on the positive side, the days start to get a little bit longer and the number of weeks until racing begins drops into single figures – so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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Towards the end of the month I had a nice lunch at the M&DTTA annual luncheon and prize presentation and also picked up a few medals and team trophies as a result of last season’s endeavours.  On a personal basis I came 2nd in the M&DTTA BAR, 12hr and Middle Distance Championship (1st veteran on standard) and 3rd in the 50 and 100 mile championships.  As part of Seamons teams we won the 25 mile Tom White trophy, the 100 mile South Lancs shield and the LH Brooks cup for the 12hr (pictured above and below).  Events like these provide further motivation, if needed, to continue with the hard work, and to catch up with people you haven’t seen since the end of the race season.

In terms of my training, at the end of December I came out of  my base phase and started speed and power work.  VO2Max and supra-threshold intervals came as quite a shock to the system.  I found them really hard.  Harder than I remember, but then I hadn’t done a proper one since the end of last season.  I’m still finding them really hard and that I need the recovery day after completing a session.  Whereas in previous years I would have ignored a recovery and done back-to-back sessions, this year I have resolved not to be as stupid!  I’m hoping that will pay off but as with all training, only time will tell, and it’s fair to say I’m having a bit of a training wobble at the moment.  There is an old saying that races are not won in the summer, they are won in the winter – winter miles, summer smiles!  Hope so – things are going well with power edging upwards and I’m a lot lighter than this time last year.  The big question is whether I can transfer the gains from the turbo to the bike – something which proved difficult last year – so no complacency here.

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As an aside to training I watched the final evening in the Revolution series at the Manchester Velodrome.  I was interested but didn’t have particularly high expectations because track racing is not really my “thing” but I have to say it was absolutely brilliant.

The young riders were especially impressive, but it was good to see great Olympic and World Class riders like Jason Kenny, Katie Archibald, Dani Rowe and Elinor Barker. I really enjoyed it and will probably go again the next time it comes around.

Finally, Project 1849 looks like it may stall before it even starts!  Highways England are looking to ban all cyclists from the V718, which is realistically the only course where I was likely to even get close to a sub 19 minute 10.  It will be a shame if that happens, but we live in a car-centric society where the answer to cycling safety is to ban the victims rather than address the actual issue at hand.  I will write more on this subject as it unfolds.

In January I managed 345 miles outdoors with 20,292ft ascent at around 14.9mph average, which used up around 13,357kcals. I spent 35 hours and 2 minutes on the turbo using a further 25,521kcals. Total for the month was 3,088TSS

Project 1849 – Season 6 Goals

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As I write this the start of my season is only 8 weeks away so my thoughts have turned to goals I want to achieve.  Accepted theory is that goals should be SMART

  • Specific – check ☑️
  • Measurable – check ☑️
  • Achievable – hmmm…
  • Relevant – check ☑️
  • Timely – check ☑️

So here’s the thing.  I’m not sure I’m capable of achieving these goals.  Time, and physiology, is not on my side (unless I suddenly develop asthma 😂)

An “18 minute 10” and a “49 minute 25”.  Project 1849.

To be clear, that is to complete a 10 mile ride in 18 minutes and 59 seconds or less – which means riding for 10 miles at more than 31.6mph.  And similarly complete a 25 mile ride in 49 minutes and 59 seconds or less – which means riding 25 miles at 30mph or more.

My current bests are 19:39 and 51:40, which equate to 30.53mph and 29.03mph respectively.

About 1mph in both cases.  It doesn’t seem like a big increase but in reality it’s massive.

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I put both of my PB rides into BestBikeSplit.  This is a tool that takes your power, the profile of the course and the ambient weather conditions at the time, and then uses complex mathematical models to estimate your CdA (the aerodynamic drag of a rider).  You can then use the aero analyser to adjust aspects of your ride to see what the impact might be.

In reality I can either increase my power, or decrease my CdA.

The figures suggest that if all things remain equal I need to add around 20W in both cases and I don’t think I can increase my power that much.  My tests over the winter so far suggest that I can’t and I’m training as hard as I can.

I have a new position on the bike but I have been unable to test this so far so I don’t know if I can decrease my CdA.  However, let’s assume that I can by a small amount (I was pretty aero before).

Therefore I might, just might, be able to do combine a smaller increase in power with a smaller decrease in CdA.  If I catch the right ride on the right day, I might have a slim chance.  But it will rely on riding fast courses so I will have limited opportunities to do so.

I also have other specific goals which will be similar to previous seasons and revolve around PBs, Club and Local Championships and VTTA competitions.

All of this will be a big stretch but isn’t that what challenging goals are meant to be?